EP season off to bright start

Eastern Province got their domestic season off to a perfect start with a convincing win over North West in the Cricket South Africa Provincial Three-Day Cup at St George’s Park over the weekend.
Bursting at the seams with young talent, Tian Koekemoer shone the brightest as he carried the Port Elizabeth-based side with bat and ball thanks to a splendid 116 first innings score before bowling the North West side out for a meagre 87 in their first innings reply.
North West were asked to follow on and put on a further 192 all out in their second innings, leaving EP just six runs for victory.
Coach Piet Botha hailed his side’s performance, adding that a win to start the season was a fitting reward for all the hard work that went into their off-season preparations.
“It is very nice to start with a win because it gives us extra confidence going into the season. You need to start well as a team, especially after all the hard work we put in before the start of the season.
“So that is very much a positive to be able to back our hard work up with a win. It also gives the guys the belief that we are a good team capable of playing good cricket.”
Botha said conditions had a massive impact on the match, with the overcast skies playing havoc with batting conditions, but they managed to weather the storm to put up a first innings score.
“The overcast conditions made batting really tough and it was important for us to fight hard. We were in trouble at one stage in the first innings, but thanks to some valuable partnerships, we managed to get a first innings score, and once we got that under conditions like that, we were in with a chance,” he said.
On Koekemoer’s perform-Dashing ance, Botha said they were in a spot of bother when he walked to the crease.
He also spoke highly of Koekemoer’s bowling figures as he claimed nine wickets for 64 runs in the match.
“He kept a cool head and played to a good game plan. He left the ball well and played each ball on merit. He was also joined by Solo Ngweni, who made over 50 at number 8 – that was a 100 partnership that proved vital for us.
“Then Jade de Klerk came in and we got another 50 partnership at the back end, so to get to the position of 274 after being about 60 for 6 is an unbelievable effort.”
Botha said it was pleasing to see how the fielders backed up the bowlers in the field.
The CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge match held on Sunday was rained out after North West posted a competitive 289 for seven wickets, with EP on 66 for three before the heavens opened up.

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